Now that you have the software, you’ve got one job: Jotting down here – and only here – everything that needs to happen.
Keep things simple. Don’t worry about all the extra features, like naming different projects, assigning deadlines, using labels, color codes, or anything else. Just put everything in one basic list. You’ll soon see that a single list can be super useful from the get-go. And it’s easier to stick with long-term.
David Allen, who’s a big inspiration for my way of working, introduced the Mind Sweep in his book Getting Things Done. This exercise can help you get all those loose ends out of your head.
Mind sweep works by using a list to trigger your thoughts. Here’s a good one
. Take a few minutes and have a look. You’ll start to notice all kinds of things floating around in your head that need doing, from writing that novel to buying light bulbs. Add it all to your to-do list.
Continue to add things as they occur to you over the next couple of hours, the next few days. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ve been storing in your head.
Next, you’ll have to look at your list regularly. If you neglect it, then your brain will start distracting you with reminders again. I solve this by making a pact with myself: Whenever I have a free block on my calendar, I first take out my to-do list and tackle something, big or small. Only afterwards do I check my email.
So in short: (1) Add anything on your mind to Things or Todoist, and (2) go to your to-do list if you don’t have anything scheduled on your calendar. Stick to those two simple steps, and you have a reliable basis for peace of mind.